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Flashback: 1993 White Sox

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A thrilling season and first playoff appearance in a decade marked the beginning of a possible South Side dynasty

BO JACKSON WHITE SOX
Bo, Take a Bow: After a sloppy hug and kiss from Ozzie, Jackson earns a curtain call after a pinch-homer in his first at-bat after artificial hip surgery.
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Today, the Chicago White Sox tomorrow welcome back members of the 1993 American League West Division winners. Celebrating the 25-year anniversary will be Ozzie Guillén, Bo Jackson, 1993 AL Cy Young winner Jack McDowell, Hall-of-Famers Tim Raines and Frank Thomas, Wilson Álvarez, Jason Bere, Craig Grebeck, Mike Huff, Lance Johnson, Warren Newson, Dan Pasqua and manager Gene Lamont.

Four years ago, friend of SSS Rob Hart wrote a nice piece about 1993, his favorite White Sox year, which is a fantastic supplement to what’s coming here.

While we wonder whether Pasqua and Daniel Palka will pose for a future souvenir poster together, here’s a look back at 10 of the top games from that division-winning season:

April 6 (Opening Day): Big O — White Sox 10, Minnesota Twins 5

The White Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and were at 9-4 by the fourth, in an easy win at the Twinkie Dome to open the season. Joey Cora, George Bell and Guillen had two hits apiece, with free agent acquisition Ellis Burks going 3-for-5. The big blow came in the fourth, when Raines smoked a three-run homer to right, putting Chicago up, 8-4. McDowell went a sloppy six for the win, in front of 51,617 hankie-waving Twins rooters.

BO JACKSON WHITE SOX
Jackson watches his pinch-homer soar into the right-field stands.
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April 9: Bo Knows How to Foreshadow — New York Yankees 11, White Sox 6

The third home opener in New Comiskey’s history was a heartbreaker of a slugfest. Wilson Alvarez started and Donn Pall was the first out of the pen; both were shelled. Likewise Bob Wickman starting, and Neal Heaton out of the Yankees pen. However, the drama was thick when Bo Jackson pinch-hit for Pasqua in the sixth and hit a solo shot deep to right field, drawing the White Sox to within 7-4. With the lead trimmed further, to 7-5, Bobby Thigpen surrendered a grand slam to Jim Leyritz in the eighth, putting the game away. Thigpen would be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in August.

LANCE JOHNSON WHITE SOX
One Dog had a stellar 1993, with 6.1 WAR, another season leading the AL in triples, and 35 steals in 42 attempts.
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May 4: Backing Into First — Milwaukee Brewers 6, White Sox 1

An early indication that the AL West was ripe for the picking came as the White Sox moved into a tie for first place after losing to Milwaukee. Chicago had just ripped off a six-game winning streak after falling as far back as 4 12 games by April 25. Just eight games later, the White Sox were in first place. Officer Ron Karkovice and Johnson both had two hits, and the One Dog had both his eight steal and third error of the early season. Jackson gunned down Dave Nilsson at home to end the second inning. The White Sox were 0-for-10 with RISP, as Kirk McCaskill fell to 2-4.

Ellis Burks
Burks had a nice bounce-back season in Chicago (2.9 WAR) before signing with Colorado in 1994.
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May 16: Menacing Texas — White Sox 15, Texas Rangers 8

The Sox tallied what would be their biggest outburst of runs all season, on 17 hits and four homers: Burks (two), Jackson, Karkovice, Ventura. Thomas had a 4-for-5 day, and Ventura added three safeties. Alex Fernandez ascended to 5-2 with a win where he could afford to be dull, while Thigpen picked up a sloppy, 3 13 - inning save, his first of the season.

Jason Bere
Bere was a wunderkind in 1993.
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May 27: Hooray Bere — Kansas City Royals 6, White Sox 4

A day after his 22nd birthday, Jason Bere was called up from Triple-A Nashville to make his major league debut. While there wasn’t a lot that was remarkable about his first loss, an effort of six innings, five earned, four walks, four Ks and two homers, it’s what Bere did with the rest of his 1993 that was. The young righthander would win 12 of his 16 decisions on the season, including his last seven starts of 1993.

“Carlton Fisk Day” had a weird prank attached to the end of it — the veteran catcher’s release.
EUGENE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images

June 22: Goodbye, Carlton — White Sox 3, Rangers 2

With his start in this walk-off win, Fisk set the all-time record for games caught — setting the record while playing the game’s most demanding position at 45 years, 178 days. Fisk went 0-for-2 in what would turn out to be his final game. On “Carlton Fisk Day,” the White Sox gifted Fisk with a Harley — then unceremoniously and awkwardly dumped him off of the team after he traveled to Cleveland for Chicago’s next series. Many teammates wore 72s written in chalk on the back of their caps in response to losing their Pudge. As for the game, Johnson slapped a two-out, bases-loaded single off of Texas closer Tom Henke for the winner.

July 7: First Place to Stay — White Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 2

The White Sox moved to a very modest 43-39 and first place with this win at SkyDome. Chicago would not fall from first again all season. A 16-hit attack supported Alex Fernandez as he earned his 10th win and Roberto Hernandez his 17th save. Raines, Burks and Johnson all had three hits, but Raines’s base-stealing slump continued, getting caught for his sixth time in 10 tries.

August 4: Robin vs. Nolan — Rangers 5, White Sox 2

Boy, has the game dramatically changed in 25 years! In the third inning, Rangers starter Nolan Ryan drilled Ventura on the elbow with a first-pitch fastball, in retaliation for Fernandez plunking Juan Gonzalez in the previous inning, and for Ventura driving in Chicago’s first run with a single in the first. Ventura’s temper (and tenderized elbow) got the best of him, and he charged Ryan, who landed several punches while headlocking Ventura. When the dust settled, Ventura and Lamont were ejected — while Ryan was allowed to return to the mound to keep pitching! Ryan would go seven innings, earning the win.

September 27: The Clinch — White Sox 4, Seattle Mariners 2

In 1983, the White Sox clinched the AL West in September with a close win over the Mariners in Chicago. Ten years later, with no playoff appearances in the interim, the White Sox did the same thing, in even more dramatic fashion: With two on and a 3-0 count in a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth, Jackson skied a homer to left off of Dave Fleming. The victory eliminated the second-place Rangers from contention and brought the playoffs back to Chicago. It was Jackson’s 15th homer of the season, adding an incredible highlight to one of the most remarkable comeback seasons in baseball history.

October 3: Ending on a High Note — White Sox 4, Cleveland Indians 0

As a finale for a team already clinched, this game took the shape of a spring training game, but the win was notable in that it was the last major league appearance for both Drew Denson and former White Sox star Iván Calderon. In their only at-bats of the game and last of their careers, Calderon grounded out weakly, while Denson singled. Bere was brilliant, as he’d been the entire month of September, going seven scoreless for his 12th win of the season. The win put the White Sox’s division margin at eight games, and the team record 26 games over .500 (94-68) — both season highs.

In the 1993 ALCS, the White Sox would face Toronto and fall in six games, as the Blue Jays would go on to win their second straight World Series. “Next year” was 1994, when the season was called off in August with the White Sox owning the second-best record in the American League and third-best in the majors.

And at this point, it all starts getting painful and is better left to a less celebratory day to discuss ...